Title: The Wrong Pocket
Author: Jordanna Morgan
Archive Rights: Please request the author's consent.
Characters: Ed, Al, OC throwaway bad guy.
Summary: Sometimes Ed is even the Hero of the People on accident.
Disclaimer: They belong to Hiromu Arakawa. I'm just playing with them.
Notes: Written for the prompt word "Thief" at Fan Flashworks, from a suggestion by Kristen Sharpe. I had thoughts of using Paninya for the challenge, but my idea wasn't willing to come together in time, so I'll save that one for an amnesty round. …In the meantime, here is yet another case of Ed vs. random cardboard baddie.
"Why didn't you tell me how late it was getting?" Edward Elric demanded as he rushed down the steps of the Central Library. "Now we might be late for our train!"
Clattering after him with their suitcase in hand, Alphonse simulated an exasperated huff. "I did tell you—three times! You were just so wrapped up in that metallurgical alchemy book, you didn't even hear me!"
Ignoring his brother's correction of the facts, Ed growled between his teeth and set off toward the station at a fast walk. By his judgment, they had just enough time to make the East City train without running—if they could quickly navigate the Friday-evening pedestrian and auto traffic of Central's commuters heading home for the weekend. Already the sidewalks were clogged with businessmen, secretaries, and off-duty soldiers. Ed wove his way through the crowd, hearing Al's frequent apologies trail behind him as the armor-bodied boy gingerly pushed past clusters of bystanders. With his own slight frame, the elder sibling was adroit enough to dodge around people with nothing more than an occasional bump into a stray elbow or briefcase.
But then Ed detected a stealthy nudge against his hip that he knew did not come from merely brushing by a fellow traveler.
Halting in his tracks so abruptly that Al almost collided with him, Ed reached down. His suspicion was confirmed when he felt the empty trouser pocket where his wallet should have been.
He turned on his heel, leaning to one side to look past Al's obstructing bulk. Amidst the sea of passersby, he spotted a tall, lanky figure walking just a bit too hurriedly in the opposite direction… and without hesitation, he bolted after the man.
At the sound of Ed's shout, the pickpocket didn't look back. He broke into a run instead, shoving past confused onlookers. Ed picked up speed himself—taking advantage of the fact that after having been so rudely pushed aside by the man, people instinctively backed out of the way of his pursuer. A uniformed soldier and a brawny civilian even reached out to seize the thief, but he twisted away from their hands.
Ed's lesser height gave him a shorter stride, but after his years of physical training, he was better conditioned for sprinting. Combined with his clearer path, it wasn't difficult to catch up to the pickpocket. When he was close enough, he launched into a flying tackle and dragged the man down to the pavement.
One firm crack on the back of the skull with an automail fist left the thief dazed and groaning. Ed sat on top of him and roughly patted him down. Feeling objects concealed in hidden inner pockets of the man's jacket, he quickly dug into them, to withdraw a clutch handbag and three wallets—but none of them were his.
When the nearest soldiers rushed up to help, they found Edward yanking off the pickpocket's boots and shaking them out, searching for his own missing wallet in vain.
"Where is it?" Ed snarled, grasping the thief by the shirt front and giving him a firm shake too.
The only response was a half-conscious moan.
Between them, Alphonse and the soldiers managed to prevent Ed from trying to beat any more answers out of the pickpocket. He was forced to settle for merely pulling off most of the man's clothes in a thorough body search. By the time a pair of police officers came hurrying to the scene, the thief was down to his shorts, and Ed had no choice but to concede that the wallet was nowhere to be found on his person.
"He must have dropped it while he was running," one of the officers said sympathetically, as his partner was collecting the still-groggy and now barely-clothed thief. "Someone else may have picked it up. With any luck, they'll do the right thing and turn it in."
"He did not drop it!" Ed asserted hotly. "I was right on his heels, so I would've seen it! He must have passed it to an accomplice or—"
"I'm sorry," the policeman interrupted more firmly. "But at this time of day, in such a big crowd of people on the move, we can hardly round up everybody who was passing by and search them all. You can keep looking around here to see if it just fell somewhere, but I'm afraid all we can do now is wait until someone finds your wallet and brings it to us."
Disgusted by the lack of positive action, the young alchemist turned and stomped off, muttering imprecations under his breath.
"…This is just great," he was still snarling five minutes later, as he halfheartedly searched beneath the petunias in a window box that he knew the thief hadn't passed within ten feet of. "We've missed our train by now, and we've lost all the money I had on me—and since it's the weekend, I can't even go to the bank! We're gonna have to sit around for two days hoping someone returns my wallet with the money still in it… and if I wanna eat while we're waiting, I guess we'll just have to go to Hughes." He grimaced, thinking of the sappy condolences Major Hughes would subject him to upon hearing of his plight.
"Aww, I like staying with the Hughes family…" Al winced at the look Ed gave him. "Uh, but if you really don't want to, I think I still have a little money from the last time I bought oil for my armor. Let me see."
With that, Alphonse reached down to the pouch he wore strapped to his cuisse. He unfastened the flap and looked inside; and then he momentarily turned into a statue, freezing where he stood.
"Oh," he murmured at last, reaching into the pouch to produce Ed's safely intact wallet—with an air of sheepishness that somehow radiated even through his metal shell. "Now I remember. After you sent me to buy a sandwich for you earlier, I forgot to give your wallet back to you. I've had it with me all this time."
Ed stared at his younger brother, eyelid twitching.
"Um… oops?" Al half-laughed nervously, rubbing the back of his helmet.
Seconds later, the nearest passersby were startled by the resounding clang of a boot striking steel.
2017 Jordanna Morgan